Have you ever felt like a product on the assembly line, simply going through the motions of life without much thought or awareness? Our daily life can sometimes get so routine and busy that we forget to live in the moment. Let me share with you one incident that epitomises the concept of ‘physically here, but mentally there’.
It’s the end of a long and tiring day at work. I still have an important call scheduled with my boss. In order to save time, I decide that I will get in my car and call the boss on the way home. As I step out of the lift, my driver goes to get the car and I immediately start the call. When I open the door to get in the car, I notice that there are a lot of files and bags on the seat. I immediately close the door to get in the car from the other side. As soon as I shut the door, my driver takes off. I am a bit confused as I cannot comprehend why he took off without me. I soon realise that he heard the door close and presumed I was seated, not thinking that I couldn’t have sat in the car and closed the door in less than a second.
As am completely immersed in the call, I wait for my chauffeur to realise his mistake and take a u-turn to pick me up. I can see the car slowing down a bit ahead and so I assume he is now going to stop and reverse. I start to walk towards it, only to realise that he had slowed it down due to a speed breaker and now he has raced it again. In a few seconds my car is out of sight and I am at a total loss of words. I am unable to cut the call, but I have faith that my pilot will return in a few minutes realising his faux-pas. After being on the call for 15 minutes in a deserted parking lot, I knew I was wrong. Several cars pass me by as I see many-a-lucky employees heading home, all the while my eyes glued on the tarmac hoping that my mode of transport returns soon.
Once the call ends after about 25 minutes, I am livid and call my driver. He doesn’t answer. I am now getting hot flashes from the anger and the warm dust of the parking area. As always, when I am angry and I cannot vent it on the person intended, I call my husband. I begin to shout at him and tell him what the driver had done. And my loving partner on the other end bursts into a long annoying laughter. I hang up. I call my driver again. This time he disconnects my call. Well of course, I had taught him that when he is driving, he must disconnect all calls. But does the rule apply now as he is clearly not on his job, but some imaginary place in his head.
After a few more rounds of my BP shooting up, I am finally able to get through the driver. He seems shocked at hearing my voice on his phone because he is expecting me to be seated behind. I don’t clearly remember the words that came out of my mouth but I know they weren’t pleasant. Adding fuel to my agony was the fact that I work at Lower Parel, the Mecca of traffic. My driver now has to go a few miles to find a U-Turn and return the whole way in peak traffic, leaving me isolated in a stuffy, lonely parking floor late at night. I know I am here for the long haul. He reaches in another 45 minutes offering me no explanation for his behaviour. But honestly I didn’t need one, I knew it was mindfoolness, his mind had clearly fooled him since it was busy being present someplace else.
While that may be one freak example, there are many more regular ones; when someone at work mindlessly creates an expense sheet with an additional zero in the costs or someone you are talking to is nodding along but you know they have drifted to someplace else in their minds or someone who is busy on their phone throughout a meeting. They are here, but their mind is nowhere near.
Mindfulness, a very important practice is ironically ignored by us as our mind is always full. Several ancient Indian scriptures are written to tame this ‘chanchal chitta’, yet we fall short most of the times. Either we are regretting the past or worrying about the future. Either we are in the arms of hope or in the clutches of fear. We simply fail to remain in the moment without any judgment. Below I share with you 5 easy tips that will help you practice mindfulness on a daily basis:
- Don’t constantly multi-task
Multi-tasking is a myth. Our brain is not wired to multi-task on important matters. Remember that annoying dude driving in front of your car real slow because he is on his phone? Take one important thing at a time and be fully present.
- Reduce the speed of activity
Our level of awareness is inversely proportional to the speed of the task. Don’t be in a tearing hurry always to finish something.
Stop and smell the roses. Hear the birds chirp. See the colours of the sky. Use your senses to remain present in the moment.
Notice your thoughts. Be aware of your emotions. Don’t judge them, don’t analyse them. Just stay with them. We are usually not taught to think about our thoughts and name our feelings. We have learnt to ignore them and suppress them. But to be awake in each moment, we must be aware of what goes on within us.
When we accept the present moment, we can make the most of it. One of my favourite quotes is by Jiddu Krishnamurti; ‘Secret to my happiness is that I don’t mind what happens’. Accept self, others and life and you will be able to get rid of the mental clutter and chatter.
So here’s to you driving your car (read life) fully awake and aware. Remember that life may not give you a U-Turn.
P.S. Watch my short video on Mindfulness https://youtu.be/By4MdDfmYxw and a slightly longer one on https://www.instagram.com/tv/CIA4W8_F_Nrc1MwKgOvkNpA24hrOUADu4iR_fA0/?igshid=3s22wu91a1ua